Like much of Central Ohio, Worthington Schools has become increasingly more ethnically diverse over the past ten years. This shift has added a rich mix of cultures to our community while at the same time exponentially increasing the different names of our students.
In Worthington, we’re committed to our core value expressed as “Be Kind to Kids.” Very simply, if we’re going to live this value out in our schools, we owe it to our students to learn their names and how to pronounce them correctly. This simple act shows respect and value to each of our students.
Huda Essa is the author of the book Teach Us Your Name She says,
“As a classroom teacher eager to change the world, I was always looking for ways to build a sense of belonging, confidence, and love in my classroom. I didn’t realize that the opportunity was literally handed to me in one seemingly simple document: my class roster.
I realized I had the power through my list of students’ names to foster learning and respect for cultural diversity – and to prevent my students from going through the same embarrassment and confusion I did with my own name.
I wanted my classroom to feel like home, so I asked students to teach me to say their names correctly, the way their families did. Because names come from various languages, it’s not always easy to pronounce every sound correctly, but students saw that I cared enough to make the effort. Although I had difficulties with some language sounds, my students learned to articulate them with ease. In learning to understand and say their friends’ names, students practiced the language skills that support fluency in other languages.
Rather than view unfamiliar names as something to be mocked or judged, we can use them as an opportunity to be respectfully curious. When we share the story of our names and invite our students to do the same, we learn something new, build relationships, and connect across cultures. Learning a name is a simple and powerful way to change the world for the good.”
We’re working on learning how to correctly pronounce the names of all of our students in our schools. If you work with students in our community as a coach, club advisor, parent volunteer, etc…we encourage you to attempt to do the same. #ItsWorthIt
Check out Huda’s TED Talk. It’s worth 15 minutes of your time: https://youtu.be/TuGL9_Isfyg
- Trent Bowers, Superintendent